Watching What I’m Reading . . .

You know how you can’t sleep when you get overtired? It’s one of those nights . . . I got home from work, too tired for dinner so just had tea and toast, went to bed and here I am, wide awake! So I thought I may as well put my time to good use and write my post so that it is not as late as I thought it was going to be.

Currently I am reading The Vow by Debbie Howells.

I have previously read three of her books, and really enjoyed two, The Bones of You, and The Beauty of the End. I have only just started this tonight, so no comment yet.

I am also reading City of Friends by Joanna Trollope, an author I have enjoyed for many years.

Again I have just started this, so am not yet far enough in to comment.

I am listening to Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg, a character driven story of a woman who has been left a very unexpected bequest by her late husband. I am almost half way through, and enjoying this gentle story of love, loss, and adjustment.

This week I am planning on reading

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

In

the remote forests of Stillwater, Minnesota, you can scream for days and no one will hear you. So when the bodies of two fifteen-year-old girls are discovered frozen in the snow, Special Agent Nikki Hunt is sure the killer is local: someone knew where to hide them and thought they’d never be found.

Home for the first time in twenty years, Nikki sees that the whole town had been frantically searching for missing best friends Madison and Kaylee, and when she finds out who Madison’s step-father is, she becomes desperate to lead the case. John was once the person she trusted most in the world, who stood by her when she was just sixteen and her parents were murdered. Who supported her when she identified their killer, Mark Todd.

But when Nikki arrives at the Sheriff’s office, she’s confronted by protesters eager to see Mark freed. With new evidence that could clear his name, Mark has appealed his conviction and his brother Rory begs Nikki to take a look at what they’ve found.

Nikki knows she must focus on the killer at large, but Rory makes her wonder if she put her trust in the right people all those years ago. Are Madison and Kaylee’s deaths connected to her parents’ murders? And can she face up to her past before another life is taken?

And When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt

Single mother Beth loves her seven-year-old son Dylan with all her heart. He’s her world. But life with Dylan isn’t easy—and his emotional issues push Beth to her very limit. When a misunderstanding leads Dylan to be taken into foster care, she is determined to do whatever she can to get him back.

Mother of two, Ally has always dreamed of fostering—it feels like her chance to give back when she has been so lucky in life. But when Dylan joins their family, Ally finds herself struggling to balance his needs with those of her own children and husband—something Beth can’t help but witness when she visits.

Beth wants nothing more than to find a way to bring her beloved child home. But where is the right home for Dylan? Is it with the mother he was born to? Or is a new mother the greatest gift Beth could give her son?

Only one new ARC this week – In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni, #8 in the Tracy Crosswhite series.

I have also received a title, Mimicry by Margo Ervand, from her agent.

What new titles have you been tempted by this week?

Happy reading!

Bodies from the Library edited by Tony Medawar

EXCERPT: The murderer killed apparently at random, anyone, any time, any place. The quick incapacitating stab in the back, the body turned over and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed again. A plastic sheet would be thrown down, which had protected the killer from the spurting blood; and for the rest, no sign left, ever, no clue left for a police force stretched to its limit, on the edge of desperation. And every crank in the country ringing up, writing in, with their crackpot theories. (No Face by Christiana Brand)

ABOUT BODIES FROM THE LIBRARY 2: This anthology of rare stories of crime and suspense brings together 15 tales from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction for the first time in book form, including a newly discovered Gervase Fen novella by Edmund Crispin that has never previously been published.

With the Golden Age of detective fiction shining ever more brightly thanks to the recent reappearance of many forgotten crime novels, Bodies from the Library offers a rare opportunity to read lost stories from the first half of the twentieth century by some of the genre’s most accomplished writers.

This second volume is a showcase for popular figures of the Golden Age, in stories that even their most ardent fans will not be aware of. It includes uncollected and unpublished stories by acclaimed queens and kings of crime fiction, from Helen Simpson, Ethel Lina White, E. C. R. Lorac, Christianna Brand, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, to S. S. Van Dine, Jonathan Latimer, Clayton Rawson, Cyril Alington and Antony and Peter Shaffer (writing as Peter Antony).

This book also features two highly readable radio scripts by Margery Allingham (involving Jack the Ripper) and John Rhode, plus two full-length novellas – one from a rare magazine by Q Patrick, the other an unpublished Gervase Fen mystery by Edmund Crispin, written at the height of his career. It concludes with another remarkable discovery: ‘The Locked Room’ by Dorothy L. Sayers, a never-before-published case for Lord Peter Wimsey!

MY THOUGHTS: I have a strong affection for Golden Age Detective and mystery fiction, and I enjoyed the majority of these novellas and short stories. My very favourites – I couldn’t pick between The Locked Room by Dorothy L. Sayers featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, and one of the shortest, A Joke’s a Joke by Jonathan Latimer.

My one and only criticism of this collection is that the pen portraits of the authors is sometimes longer than the story!

Strongly recommended for all Golden Age aficionado.

⭐⭐⭐.8

THE EDITOR: Tony Medawar is a detective fiction expert and researcher with a penchant for tracking down rare stories. His other collections of previously uncollected stories include WHILE THE LIGHT LASTS (Agatha Christie), THE AVENGING CHANCE (Anthony Berkeley), THE SPOTTED CAT (Christianna Brand), A SPOT OF FOLLY (Ruth Rendell) and THE ISLAND OF COFFINS (John Dickson Carr). (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Bodies From the Library, collated by Tony Medawar, narrated by Philip Bretherton and published by Harper Collins via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo

EXCERPT: I don’t mind telling you that my sister is a bit of a nutcase about making a Plan. And yes, it’s capital-P Plan. She got the trait from our grandmother who started each day by asking the nearest victim, ‘What’s the Plan?’ meaning a list of tasks the victim was going to accomplish for her with a precise time schedule by which they’d be accomplished. Louisa’s version is somewhat different. When she sees something she thinks needs to be fixed, she comes up with a Plan to fix it, and if God has something else in mind, well, I’ve got to say, it might be too bad for God because once Louisa’s head is down and she’s got her mind set, you might as well fasten your seatbelt because you’re going on her ride.

ABOUT THE BOOK OF CAROLSUE: CarolSue and her sister, Louisa, are best friends, but haven’t had much in common since CarolSue married Charlie, moved to Atlanta, and swapped shoes covered with Indiana farm dust for pedicures and afternoon bridge. Louisa, meanwhile, loves her farm and animals as deeply as she’d loved Harold, her late husband of forty years.

Charlie’s sudden death leaves CarolSue so adrift that she surrenders to Louisa’s plan for her to move back home. But canning vegetables and feeding chickens are alien to CarolSue, and she resolves to return to Atlanta–until Louisa’s son, Reverend Gary, arrives with an abandoned infant and a dubious story. He begs the women to look after the baby while he locates the mother–a young immigrant who fears deportation.

Keeping his own secrets, Gary enlists the aid of the sheriff, Gus, in the search. But CarolSue’s bond with the baby is undeniable, and she forms an unconventional secret plan of her own. How many mistakes can be redeemed?

MY THOUGHTS: I am always up for a book that isn’t centred around young, beautiful, rich people. Not that I have anything against them; indeed I aspire to be one. And The Book of CarolSue certainly meets that criteria. The two main characters, Louisa and CarolSue appear to be in their mid-sixties, now both widowed, CarolSue only recently. Louisa, as she is prone to do, takes charge and shepherds the bereft CarolSue ‘back home’. The trouble is, CarolSue feels like a fish out of water . . . and a gooseberry around her sister and the town sheriff, Gus, who like to ‘nap’ noisily in the afternoons.

I liked the feistyness of both these women who each have a strong sideline in sarcasm. But what started out charming and amusing deteriorated into tedious and repetitive by the 50% mark, and I finished the book feeling rather like a hampster trapped on it’s wheel. The book loses its focus on CarolSue and Louisa and becomes bogged down by the Gary/Gus/Church/embezzlement debacle, much to its detriment.

I’m afraid that this is another case of one book trying to cover too many issues – sisterhood, grief, love, loss, and family would have been enough, but the addition of immigration and illegal labour issues, con-men, and embezzlement only muddied the waters and overloaded the storyline.

The Book of CarolSue is actually the second in a proposed trilogy, the first of which is The Testament of Harold’s Wife, which focuses on Louisa and her loss. I have not read this, and I probably won’t. But The Book of CarolSue is easily read as a stand-alone and, in fact, is not promoted as part of a series.

Had the book continued on in the same vein as it started, this would have been an excellent read, but as it stands it only rates ⭐⭐.8 stars from me.

#TheBookofCarolSue #NetGalley

There are lots of little gems in here:
‘ . . . people disappeared, here to track mud on your clean floor and laugh when you complained about missing chocolate chip cookies one instant, dead the next, and you don’t get two weeks notice in the mail that it’s going to happen.’

‘Isn’t it strange how we think one thing is going to happen and something utterly different happens? Inside we are so disappointed and have no idea that life might just have handed us a huge gift.’

‘I’ve not only lost my marbles, but they’ve rolled way under the furniture never to be retrieved.’

‘Life does not follow clean lines, but ones that stagger. We limp along, trying to keep up, carrying baskets unevenly loaded with failures and regrets. We find our joys accidentally, unexpectedly, along the way and must cherish them. Cling to, remember, and cherish them.’

THE AUTHOR: Lynne Hugo is an American author whose roots are in the northeast. She lives with her husband, a former Vice President for Academic Affairs of a liberal arts college and now a professional photographer, in the Midwest. They have two grown children, three grandchildren, and a yellow Labrador retriever.

Ms. Hugo has taught creative writing to hundreds of schoolchildren through the Ohio Arts Council’s renowned Arts in Education program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, and a Master’s from Miami University.

When an editor asked her to describe herself as a writer, she responded:

“I write in black Wal-Mart capri sweatpants. They don’t start out as capris, but I routinely shrink them in the drier by accident. And I always buy black because it doesn’t show where I’ve wiped the chocolate off my hands. Now that my son and daughter are grown, my previous high grade of ‘below average’ in Domestic Achievement has dropped somewhat. But I’m less guilty about it now. I lose myself in crafting language by a window with birdfeeders hanging in the branches of a Chinese elm towering over the house. When I come up for air, I hike by the ponds and along the river in a nearby forest with my beloved Lab. My husband, with whom I planted that elm as a bare root sapling, joins us when he can.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books for providing a digital ARC of The Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Whisper Man by Alex North

EXCERPT: Jake.

There is so much I want to tell you, but we’ve always found it hard to talk to each other, haven’t we?

So I’ll have to write to you instead.

I remember when Rebecca and I first brought you home from hospital. It was dark and it was snowing, and I’d never driven so carefully in my life. You were two days old and strapped in a carrier on the back seat, Rebecca dozing beside you, and every now and then I’d look in the rearview mirror to check you were safe.

Because you know what? I was absolutely fucking terrified. I grew up as an only child, completely unused to babies, and yet there I was – responsible for one of my own. You were so impossibly small and vulnerable, and me so unprepared, that it seemed ludicrous that they’d allowed you out of the hospital with me. From the very beginning, we didn’t fit, you and I. Rebecca held you easily and naturally, as though she’d been born to you rather than the other way round, whereas I always felt awkward, scared of this fragile weight in my arms and unable to tell what you wanted when you cried. I didn’t understand you at all.

That never changed.

When you were a little older, Rebecca told me it was because you and I were so alike, but I don’t know if that’s true. I hope it isn’t. I’d always have wanted better for you than that.

But regardless, we can’t talk to each other, which means that I’ll have to try and write all this down instead. The truth about everything that happened in Featherbank.

Mister Night. The boy in the floor. The butterflies. The little girl with the strange dress.

And the Whisper Man of course.

It’s not going to be easy, and I need to start with an apology. Over the years, I told you so many times that there was nothing to be afraid of. That there was no such thing as monsters.

I’m sorry that I lied.

ABOUT THE WHISPER MAN: If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another young boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely .

He says he hears a whispering at his window…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The Devil finds work for idle hands. Bad thoughts find empty heads.’

This is a pretty darned good debut thriller. Personally, I would have liked a bit more creepiness in there – there were certainly the opportunities for it, but I thought the palpable air of menace when Josh is being held by his abductor was really well executed.

The Whisper Man is a thrilling and satisfying read. The twists are deftly done, and none of them predictable. They are also quite plausible. There’s the odd red herring thrown in to distract the reader and they worked for me – I fell for them hook, line and sinker. This is well plotted, and I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters, especially the exploration of the father/son bond.

Alex North has shown a deep understanding of the human psyche. From the school gate cliques to the machinations of a murderer, to a father floundering with the responsibility of bringing up his son alone, North’s characters display real emotions. I could relate to every one of them, other than Frank Carter of course (just in case you were wondering, and worrying).

While I didn’t find The Whisper Man particularly chilling, it definitely was engaging and thrilling. I didn’t think the rhyme
If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.
was particularly inspired. But then I am not a young child. I might be a little perturbed if I heard my young grandson whispering it though!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

THE AUTHOR: Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Whisper Man by Alex North, published by Penguin, Michael Joseph. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

A few of my favourite things . . .

These are the books currently sitting on my bedside table waiting to be read … The Ghost by Robert Harris journeyed all the way from my good friend Glenda Henry in Emerald, Queensland, Australia. I bought The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle – doing my bit to support Kiwi authors. The others are garage sale/charity shop finds.

My bookseat – one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received! Hands free reading, other than having to turn the page. It makes reading while you eat a breeze, or in bed, anywhere really! And my Kindle sits on it nicely too!

My favourite bookmark which my friend Gayel brought back from Japan for me. It has a little tab on the back which slips over the page.

And finally, for reading in the bath (one of my favourite pastimes!) another thoughtful gift from friend Gladdi. The glass of bubbles is optional 🥂🤣😂

What are your favourite reading accessories?

You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley

EXCERPT: So that was the official word on the incident: a tragic accident.

And that’s it. Almost. There is just one more mention, easy to miss, had I not, out of habit, set the dates as wide as possible for my search, from before the fire to the present day. You never want to overlook any detail.

And that’s how I found it, the final link chaining the dead past to this house’s living present. It is not a news story but a marriage announcement, dated eight years ago.

Mr J.C. Hayes and Miss O.E. Vane
The engagement is announced between Joshua, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hayes of Richmond, London, and Olivia, daughter of the late Mr. Alexander Vane and Mrs. Vane of Annersley, Cheshire.

And that’s why I am sitting here, flicking through the cuttings before the session ahead, my stomach twisting in anticipation of what I must address.

She is Olivia Hayes. But once she was Olivia Vane.

This is her house. Her family. Her story.

ABOUT YOU CAN TRUST ME BY EMMA ROWLEY: YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HER.
BUT SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.
Olivia is the domestic goddess-turned-internet sensation who has won millions of followers by sharing her picture-perfect life online. And now she’s releasing her tell-all autobiography.

Nicky is the ghostwriter tasked with coaxing out the full story – including details of the tragic accident that blighted Olivia’s golden childhood.

But, as she delves into Olivia’s life, Nicky discovers cracks appearing in the glamorous façade. From money worries to Olivia’s strained relationship with her handsome husband, the truth belies her perfect image.

As Olivia becomes increasingly hostile to the woman she’s let into her life, Nicky becomes ever more relentless in her hunt for the truth.

Has Olivia really escaped the ghosts of her past – or will Nicky find there are more sinister reasons she wants to leave an old tragedy well alone?

MY THOUGHTS: There are two sides to every story, everyone knows that. But what matters in the end, is who gets to tell it.

The story is told from two perspectives: Nicky, the ghostwriter charged with telling Olivia’s story, and from that of Olivia herself. Of the two, I greatly preferred Olivia’s narrative. But, in reality, You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley largely fell flat for me. In the places that should have been suspenseful, I felt nothing. Come on! A hidden cellar in the cellar, that ought to be supremely creepy; I should have been holding my breath in anticipation, but it wasn’t, and I wasn’t.

The story dragged in parts and, although there were places where the pace would pick up, they were brief and insubstantial. It felt disjointed and incomplete, even at the end. There are two major twists in the story, one of which I guessed when one particular facet of Olivia’s background was being studiously ignored, and once that was exposed, the second was a given.

Overall, I was disappointed. I felt that the plot had far more potential than was explored.

⭐⭐.7

#YouCanTrustMe #NetGalley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emma Rowley is a writer, ghostwriter and editor with a background in journalism – formerly of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. A graduate in Classics and English at Oxford University, she trained as a journalist on the prestigious City University course. Emma has spent considerable time in the courts and covering major crime stories. She lives in London. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

My Darling by Amanda Robson

EXCERPT: Jade: We move into our new house, Fairlawns. A large Victorian detached, near the river in Henley-on-Thames. Top end comfort. Top end price. Arriving in our Porsche, just as the removal men are entering the house with our walnut dining table, I look up and see a man and a woman standing at the side window of the house next door, staring down at us.

The woman is seriously tarty. Long blonde hair, bleached, not natural. Smelling of Botox. Not wearing very much clothing. Her short house coat does not leave much to the imagination. Very much your sort of thing, Tomas. Not a woman, but a stereotype. As I watch her looking down on us, I determine you will not get away with it again. Don’t even try it, I tell you with my eyes.

ABOUT MY DARLING BY AMANDA ROBSON: A new couple moves in next door.
And nothing will ever be the same again…

I watched you move in and thought we might be friends.

I saw you watching from the window – and knew I’d have to keep you away from my husband.

I started to trust you. Confide in you.

I started to mistrust you. Suspect you.

I was confused when I blacked out after an evening at your place. Was I really that drunk?

I came up with a plan. A plan to make you both pay . . .

MY THOUGHTS: are liable to be quite incoherent. Firstly, when you plan on reading My Darling by Amanda Robson, don’t plan on doing anything else until you have finished the book. It’s that good. I only planned on reading a few pages before I went to sleep last night. I read the whole book. Couldn’t put it down. Didn’t even think about going to sleep.

Twisty doesn’t even begin to describe the plot. It’s like a corkscrew that has been tied in knots! Breathtaking. Heart pounding. Diabolically clever. Dark. Wicked. Absolutely sublime. There was barely a moment in which I was able to stop and draw a breath!

I loved the characters. I hated the characters. I loved to hate them. I admired their ingenuity. I admired Robson’s ingenuity. I don’t ever want to cross her. But I do want to read everything she has ever written, immediately.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After graduating, Amanda Robson worked in medical research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and at the Poisons Unit at Guy’s Hospital, where she became a co-author of a book on cyanide poisoning. Amanda attended the Faber novel writing course and writes full-time. Her debut novel, Obsession, became a #1 ebook bestseller in 2017. She is also the author of three more domestic suspense novels: Guilt, Envy and My Darling. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: A huge thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of My Darling by Amanda Robson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Another Sunday, and another week’s reading completed. I even managed to sneak in an extra book this week . . . I picked it up last night, intending to read just a chapter or two before I went to sleep. Instead I read the whole thing. But more about that later in the post.

I am currently reading The Whisper Man by Alex North. Two of my Goodreads.com reading groups, the Crime, Mystery and Thriller group and the All About Books group, have picked this as the October group read.

I am about to start You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley

Currently I am listening to Bodies From the Library 2: Forgotten stories of mystery and suspense by the Queens of Crime and masters of Golden Age detection.

I am also planning on reading The Book of Carol Sue by Lynn Hugo this week.

CarolSue and her sister, Louisa, are best friends, but haven’t had much in common since CarolSue married Charlie, moved to Atlanta, and swapped shoes covered with Indiana farm dust for pedicures and afternoon bridge. Louisa, meanwhile, loves her farm and animals as deeply as she’d loved Harold, her late husband of forty years.

Charlie’s sudden death leaves CarolSue so adrift that she surrenders to Louisa’s plan for her to move back home. But canning vegetables and feeding chickens are alien to CarolSue, and she resolves to return to Atlanta–until Louisa’s son, Reverend Gary, arrives with an abandoned infant and a dubious story. He begs the women to look after the baby while he locates the mother–a young immigrant who fears deportation.

Keeping his own secrets, Gary enlists the aid of the sheriff, Gus, in the search. But CarolSue’s bond with the baby is undeniable, and she forms an unconventional secret plan of her own. How many mistakes can be redeemed?

I am keeping my reading load deliberately light this week as I have a busy week ahead at work, culminating next Sunday so am probably going to be very late with my Watching what I’m reading post – like Monday!

Four new ARCs this week:

The Girl Who Never Came Home by Nicole Trope

The House at Magpie Cove by Kennedy Kerr

Consolation by Garry Disher

And The Open House by Sam Carrington

Now, the extra book that I read this week? My Darling by Amanda Robson. WARNING: don’t start reading this unless you have cleared the rest of your day. Yes, it is THAT good. Review coming tomorrow!

Have a wonderful weekend to all of you who still have some left to enjoy. It’s time for me to start planning the meals for the rest of the week….

Happy reading!

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

EXCERPT: ‘Hold on,’ I said. ‘Three mysteries?’

‘Oui, mon cher. There is the betrothed of Richard Devonport, Mademoiselle Helen. Did she or did she not kill his brother Frank? If she did not, then why has she confessed? That is Mystery Number One. Then we have Number Two: the strange affair of Joan Blythe who speaks of mysterious warnings of her own future murder and is assuredly deeply afraid of something.’

And Number Three?’

ABOUT THE KILLINGS AT KINGFISHER HILL BY SOPHIE HANNAH: Hercule Poirot is travelling by luxury passenger coach from London to the exclusive Kingfisher Hill estate. Richard Devonport has summoned him to prove that his fiancée, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother, Frank. There is one strange condition attached to this request: Poirot must conceal his true reason for being there from the rest of the Devonport family.

On the coach, a distressed woman leaps up, demanding to disembark. She insists that if she stays in her seat, she will be murdered. A seat-swap is arranged, and the rest of the journey passes without incident. But Poirot has a bad feeling about it, and his fears are later confirmed when a body is discovered in the Devonports’ home with a note that refers to “the seat that you shouldn’t have sat in.”

Could this new murder and the peculiar incident on the coach be clues to solving the mystery of who killed Frank Devonport? And can Poirot find the real murderer in time to save an innocent woman from the gallows?

MY THOUGHTS: Well done Sophie Hannah! I could hear the Belgian detective’s voice clearly throughout this book. The plotting is perhaps a little more complex and ingenious than in Christie’s works, but that is in no way a criticism.

I was gripped almost from the very start and continued to be so to the very end. Sophie Hannah had me putting my little grey cells to work, not particularly effectively I may add. I thought that I had it all figured out, the who and the motive, reasonably early on, but by three quarters of the way through I knew that I was wrong, unless someone was lying . . . but, unfortunately, in this instance they weren’t! In fact, I got a lot of things wrong, but had great fun doing so.

I thought the solution rather ingenious and was satisfied with the way it was all wound up. There are some despicable characters amongst the cast, and some that I grew quite fond of. It matters not in the least that there’s very little character development, and that there’s a huge amount of dialogue, two things that I normally complain about. It is what it is, and it works.

Hannah has done a great job of carrying on Poirot in almost Christiesque style. It’s a marvellous read, and although one of a series, is easily read as a stand-alone. I have another of her Poirot titles that I recently purchased on my shelf, and I will be pulling that out to go on the pile on my bedside table. And I will be purchasing the others. I enjoyed this romp!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheKillingsAtKingfisherHill #NetGalley @HarperCollins

THE AUTHOR: Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.
She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She is currently working on a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

EXCERPT: Nina’s Diary – July 4

I am writing this to raise the alarm in the event of my untimely death. This is hard to admit, even to myself, let alone to the world. My husband is planning to kill me. For obvious reasons. He’s in love with someone else. And he wants my money.

ABOUT THE WIFE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor – and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

MY THOUGHTS: The Wife Who Knew Too Much is not my favourite of Michele Campbell’s work. Although it starts well, it lacks subtlety and soon deteriorates into something resembling a soap opera.

None of the characters are at all likeable. I felt nothing except exasperation for Tabitha, the main character, who comes across as totally pathetic and needy for the majority of the book. The character of Connor, her ‘one true love’, goes through several metamorphoses, but remains, in my eyes, an utter sleaze. While we’re talking characters, there is zero character development.

The plot had plenty of potential, but became unwieldy and unrealistic. Yes, I know this is fiction, but still, this was OTT. Eye-rollingly OTT in parts. I prefer more mystery, fewer thugs and when all else fails ‘run them off the road/shoot them’ solutions. It almost felt like two different people wrote the two halves of this book. So, rather than classifying this as a murder mystery, I would define it as a (schmaltzy) romantic thriller. Sorry, but not my cup of tea. This may come across better as a movie.

⭐⭐.3

THE AUTHOR: Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Wife Who Knew Too Much, written by Michele Campbell, narrated by Dylan Moore and published by HQ via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.com